"This house is dripping with souls. But there's always room for one more. "
"This guy was so petty, you have to respect it."
Haunted Mansion has been out for a couple weeks now. So it's high time I discussed my thoughts on the remake of the ever so popular Disney IP. Based off of Disney's popular classic ride, Haunted Mansion tells the story of an old mansion full of spirits, the people that have come through the doors, and the evil entity that is plaguing them all. I have to start off by saying that I have not seen the first tackling of the mythos that starred Eddie Murphy and I have also not seen the one with The Muppets; much to my wife's displeasure. I assure you that I will check them out soon. Also, in a very rare appearance, the words of Madison Quinn, The Dutchess of
Nerds, and The Mad Mac, herself, will be in this blog later on; and I must say I have never, in our time together, seen her type up something so excitingly and passionately. I knew this was her favorite Disney property, but damn. If you could have seen her reaction when I asked her to type her thoughts up. ADORABLE!
Haunted Mansion is the story of a single mom named Gabbie and her son moving into this abandoned old mansion outside of New Orleans to start a new life. However, when the ghosts make theirselves known in the first few minutes of their first night; she hires a tour guide, a psychic, a priest and a historian to help exorcise her newly bought mansion. Written by Katie Dippold ( Ghostbusters, The Heat, Parks and Rec.) and directed by Justin Semien ( Dear White People, Bad Hair ), the movie stars Rosario Dawson ( Rent, Ahsoka, Clerks 2 ),
LaKeith Stanfield ( Atlanta, Judas and The Black Messiah, Knives Out ),
Owen Wilson ( Wedding Crashers, Loki, Armageddon ),
Danny DeVito ( Batman Returns, Man on The Moon, Matilda ),
Tiffany Haddish ( Like A Boss, Night School, Girls Trip ),
Jamie Lee Curtis ( Halloween, Freaky Friday, True Lies ),
Chase Dillon ( That Damn Michael Che, The Harder They Fall, Saint X ),
and Jared Leto (Suicide Squad, Morbius, Dallas Buyers Club )
I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. The characters were great, the lore was fantastic, the writing was fun, and the world was both entertaining, spooky, and spot on with what the ride at Disney brings. If you are criticizing the movie because of "hoaky blue ghosts," well you obviously don't get it. THAT IS HAUNTED MANSION AT DISNEY WORLD! What were you expecting? Haunting of Hill House? Rose Red? 13 Ghosts? NO! It's Disney's Haunted Mansion. This movie wasn't supposed to be the same level as Insidious: The Red Door! It's Disney. It's campy and fun and entertaining and based on one of the most classic rides in the park. It's giving us a world that's both spooky and fun. If you went into it wanting something like the others, then I suggest you stick to the R rated scary movies. Anyone wanting it to be scarier or not hoaky, doesn't understand the assignment the creators were given. Well, in my opinion, the creators understood the assignment. The movie was a fantastic addition to the Disney live action lineup and apparently a great departure from the first rendition with Eddie Murphy's version; if you ask my wife.
I also really enjoyed the vibe of the movie. I have been to New Orleans and gosh did it capture the feel of things, even in the scenes that weren't necessarily "in the streets of NOLA." The soundtracking and ambiance the movie gives keeps you in the spirit of things...pun fully intended. I never felt like I was taken out of the movie for any reason. From the moment the movie began, I was invested in the world, the characters, and the story. There were also small inclusions of themes from the ride. Whether it be different versions of the song, easter eggs from the ride, or characters seen and mentioned; the movie had something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you are an avid goer of the movies or a fan of Disney's park and attractions, this movie will give you all the feels it is supposed to. Clocking in at a little over 2 hours, it went fast. I did not feel like I was in the theaters for two hours. I could have been longer, in my opinion. I also enjoyed the look of the movie. The lighting of the movie and the colors of the movie gave it many different feelings. When things were meant to be scary or depressing to light and loving, the lighting and colors were there to match it.
I thought the story had heart too. There was a nice undertone of combating loss and depression and the feeling of loneliness. It had a cute subplot too of love that didn't slap you in the face with romance and clear flirtiness, if that makes any sense. The overlying story of loss and hurt was told wonderfully. LaKeith sold the performance so well with the loss of his wife and the dark place he was in throughout most of the movie. I also enjoyed how they told the story of what that loneliness isn't just doing to him, but what it allows the ghosts to do to him, especially the main villain. It's so true though. If we live in this dark place, it is so easy for other dark things and people to feed on that; making it like quick sand. The more you struggle...the deeper you go. This was also told so well with the story of Chase's character not fitting in with his new school and this new town. The little twist at the end with he and his father, though I guessed it pretty quickly, was told and performed very well. He's a talented young actor. Rosario, in my opinion, does no wrong. It does not matter what the movie is or what she's doing, I LOVE ROSARIO DAWSON! Nuff said.
The rest of the ensemble in Owen, Danny, Tiffany, and Jamie Lee Curtis are fantastic too. Owen's character is comically charming and Danny always hits a home run too. Their comedic timing individually and together, in this movie is very charming. I also enjoyed the performances of Tiffany and Jamie Lee. The way that Tiffany's character slowly changes and grows over the movie is great and Jamie Lee Curtis as Leota is perfect. She brings a great balance of comedy and elegance to her part. Now, for the villain in Jared Leto. Wow. Even though a lot of his is mo-cap and distorted voice work, it delivered. Better than his Joker and Morbius, by far. The Hat Box Ghost was menacing, mysterious, and a force to behold. He brought a fear and uneasiness to the movie that was a nice balance to the comedy and action. We also can't forget the other 999 ghosts of Haunted Mansion! There are so many main ghosts and small ghosts that bring you full on nostalgia of the ride at Disney, no matter if it's in a painting or a full blown apparition, they deliver on the lore. Oh and the pop up cameos of Wynona Ryder and Daniel Levy are sublime! Just fantastic. Wynona is a timeless angel.
Those are my thoughts. I enjoyed it and highly recommend you see it in theaters, while you can. The ambiance and visuals, alone, in a theater are well worth it. I give it a solid 8 out of 10. The only complaint I have is that it could have been longer. Now let us know what you thought in the comments below or reach out to us for your thoughts. We will mention them in the show, if you do. Now...for more words from my lovely wife, The Duchess of Nerds, Madi Quinn!
Cheers To Ya Nerds!
I genuinely loved this movie. As someone who adores the lore and stories behind the Haunted Mansion, I couldn’t have asked for much more. Imagineers in the 1960’s set the mansion in the notoriously haunted New Orleans and modeled it after the famous Winchester house, and I think this movie really showcased and paid homage to what the Imagineers envisioned when they created the ride. There were so many clever references and details, like the crocodile coming out of Sally Slaters stretching portrait, using “a ghost will follow you home” as the reason the characters had to come back to the mansion, Grim Grinning Ghosts was included several times, and we finally got to see more of the Hatbox Ghost origin. The new characters and casting choices are as quirky as ever. Danny DeVito lights up my life. What is Owen Wilson doing here? It’s lighthearted, fun, and makes me feel like a kid again. My Halloween loving husband asks me to watch things like Insidious with him, so I need hokey blue ghosts in my life, ok? I give it a solid 9 out of 10 Doom Buggies, I haven’t enjoyed a Disney film this much in a long time. I am constantly analyzing the tiniest of details in films and they knocked it out of the park in that department (down to the ride accurate wallpaper), I will definitely watch this one again...and again.
DID YOU KNOW?
Gracey Manor is modeled after the original Disneyland Haunted Mansion. Crump Manor is modeled after Magic Kingdom's Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World.
The chair in which Harriet is seated at the spirit session, and in which she is later expelled from the Mansion, resembles the ride vehicles, known as "Doombuggies", in the Haunted Mansion ride in the Disney parks.
The namesake of "William Gracey" and the "Gracey Manor" (the Haunted Mansion's mansion name), stems from Yale Gracey, a Disney Imagineer and member of the Academy of Magical Arts (their clubhouse is The Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA). Yale was the one who created a modernized version of "Pepper's Ghost Illusion." He showed a model to Walt Disney, who loved it and honored Yale by calling the mansion "The Gracey Mansion." Today, the attraction still holds the largest display of Pepper's Ghost Illusion in the world (it is the dining room scene with the ghosts flying around the table). The original, working, model is still on display at The Magic Castle in Hollywood, California.
The banishment spell Harriet performs borrows from the ride's narration: "When hinges creak in doorless chambers," etc.
"Now don't close your eyes
And don't try to hide
Or a silly spook may sit by your side
Shrouded in a daft disguise
They pretend to terrorize
Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize"